What is factory farming?

What exactly are factory farms?

A factory farm is a mass-production facility that is used for the purpose of outputting enormously high numbers of animals for food consumption. They’re also known as: animal hell. Factory farms account for over ninety-nine percent of farm animals that are raised for food consumption in the U.S. Money is the focus of these operations, and thus, the processes they use to raise and slaughter their animals are cost- efficient, but come at the expense of every animal’s wellbeing. What about happy, grass-fed farm animals, you ask? Only a measly one percent of the 59 billion animals killed world-wide are raised on grass-fed operations. The rest have the unfortunate fate of being raised in a factory farm.

The truthful vision of a factory farm is not for the faint of heart. Some animals are kept in small metal cages in windowless sheds where they are unable to lay down or turn around. Other animals are jammed by the masses into a crowded pen where they fight for space. These conditions are not only unruly, but they are deeply unsanitary. Many animals lay in their own waste or on top of their dead friends, who weren’t able to survive due to infections, unclean conditions and unhealthy air quality. They won’t see clean air or sunlight until the day they head to their painful slaughter. By then, it’s too late.

Factory farms can be compared to a modern day holocaust of animals and in this day and age, there is no justification for this treatment of animals by money-hungry corporations.

What happens to the animals on factory farms?

Most factory-farmed animals live a strenuous life of suffering. Let’s use chickens as an example. Chickens are genetically manipulated to grow unnaturally large so that they produce faster and higher quantities of eggs.

Chickens are forced to grow so large that their legs cannot support their oversized bodies, even to stand up to get food or water. When these animals have grown large enough to slaughter, or their bodies have been worn out from producing milk or eggs, they are then shoved onto crowded trucks to be slaughtered. At the slaughterhouse, those who survive the transport will have their throats slit, often while they’re still conscious. Many remain conscious when they’re plunged into the scalding-hot water of feather-removal tanks or while their bodies are being skinned and hacked apart. And this, my friends, is just for chickens. There are many other types of animals who suffer even more brutally lives and deaths through factory farming.

Animal suffering is caused by many sources:

  • Overly crowded and too-tight indoor and unclean confinement
  • Physical alterations, such as: tail-docking, dehorning, declawing, castration, beak clipping
  • and teeth clipping – all performed without any anesthetic
  • Animals are injected with hormones and kept awake for almost 24-hours at a time to
  • increase their growth production
  • Factory farms release hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane which damage the throats
  • and stomachs of these animals causing pain and difficulty breathing (not to mention, these
  • gases also are one of the leading causes of global warming)
  • Unnatural breeding for high yields of flesh, milk and eggs
  • Neglecting sick and suffering animals, due to misuse of antibiotics and high costs of care
  • Abusive and tormenting behaviors of workers
Why Do We Raise Animals on Factory Farms?

The factory farming industry strives to maximize output while minimizing costs — always at the animals’ expense. The giant corporations that run most factory farms have found that they can make more money by squeezing as many animals as possible into tiny spaces, even though many of the animals die from disease or infection. The animals that get ill on factory farms are ignored and abandoned, left to die a miserable, sometimes painfully slow death, and RIGHT in front of their companions.

Factory farms dominate U.S. food production, employing abusive practices that maximize agribusiness profits at the expense of the environment, our communities, animal welfare, and even our health.

Far from the idyllic, spacious pastures that are shown in advertisements for meat, milk, and eggs, factory farms typically consist of large numbers of animals being raised in extreme confinement. Animals on factory farms are regarded as commodities to be exploited for profit. They undergo painful mutilations and are bred to grow unnaturally fast and large for the purpose of maximizing meat, egg, and milk production for the food industry. Their bodies cannot support this growth, which results in debilitating and painful conditions and deformities.

Do Factory Farms Harm the Environment?

The factory farming industry puts incredible strain on our natural resources. The extreme amount of waste created by raising so many animals in one place pollutes our land, air, and water. Residents of rural communities surrounding factory farms report high incidents of illness, and their property values are often lowered by their proximity to industrial farms. To counteract the health challenges presented by overcrowded, stressful, unsanitary living conditions, antibiotics are used extensively on factory farms, which create drug-resistant bacteria that threatens human health by creating superbugs that our current antibiotics cannot treat.

11 Facts about Factory Farming and the Environment


  • About 10 billion land animals in the United States are raised for dairy, meat, and eggs each year.
  • Factory farming accounts for 37% of methane (CH4) emissions, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2.
  • Manure can also contain traces of salt and heavy metals, which can end up in bodies of water and accumulate in the sediment, concentrating as they move up the food chain.
  • When manure is repeatedly over applied to farm land it causes dangerous levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water supply. In such excessive amounts, nitrogen robs water of oxygen and destroys aquatic life.
  • Burning fossil fuels to produce fertilizers for animal feed crops may emit 41 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
  • Globally, deforestation for animal grazing and feed crops is estimated to emit 2.4 billion tons of CO2 every year.
  • Corn, wheat, and rice, the fast-growing crops on which humanity depends for survival, are among the most nitrogen hungry of all plants.
  • Large-scale animal factories often give animals antibiotics to promote growth, or to compensate for illness resulting from crowded conditions. These antibiotics enter the environment and the food chain.
  • Factory farms contribute to air pollution by releasing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane.
  • The US Department of Agriculture estimates that confined farm animals generate more than 450 million tonnes of manure annually, 3 times more raw waste than generated by Americans.
  • The waste lagoons on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) not only pollute our groundwater, but deplete it as well. Many of the farms use the groundwater for cleaning, cooling, and drinking.
Most common misunderstood food labels:

Aren’t The Food Labels “Natural”, “Free-Range” and “Humanely Raised” a great way to buy meat that has been treated well, safely, humanely and out on beautiful green pastures?

Unfortunately NOT! These terms were created by agribusiness to make a consumer believe what they want to believe, which is that they are not paying into a system of cruelty and torture. Packages of meat, eggs and dairy often bear terms that appear to indicate meaningful animal welfare standards, but only a tiny fraction of them do. This confusion prevents conscientious consumers from voting with their wallets for better treatment of farm animals.

Natural – Does not impact animal welfare in any way.

Free-Range – No legal definition by the FDA for use on eggs, pork, beef or dairy. This means basically nothing.

Humanely Raised/Humanely Handled – Undefined and subjective terms without codified standards. No written standards have been created by the FDA for “Humanely Raised” meat.

Hormone-Free/No Hormones Added – Hormones are not approved by law for use on pigs or poultry, so the term is meaningless on those products. AND its only common, scientific sense that obviously animals are naturally FULL of hormones, just as people are. They are alive and breathing and their hormonal system is just as robust as ours is. There is no such thing as a “hormone-free” animal.

Cage-Free – On eggs, this label indicates that hens were not raised in battery cages. However, it is an empty claim, as we have seen “cage-free” operations that confine over 75,000 birds into one barn!

Interested To Learn More on Factory Farms?

Fowl Are Often “Debeaked” To Avoid Cannibalism

by Food For Thought from the Huffington Post

According to the USDA, 36.8 billion pounds of broiler chicken were raised and killed for consumption in 2013. Since these animals live in such close quarters, some farm operators remove the beaks of chickens, turkeys and ducks to keep them from pecking one another to death, often by burning or cutting the beaks off. Although a number of scientists claim that this practice does not cause the animals too much pain, a significant portion of them die throughout the ordeal. Despite the mass amounts of chicken, turkey and ducks we consume annually, fowl are exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act. This means that unlike the mammals we consume, chickens can be killed however the farm owner sees fit. “Battery cages”, the common living space for more than 90 percent of egg-laying hens in America, provide as little as 0.6 square feet of space per hen. That is smaller than a regular sized sheet of paper.

Millions Of Chicks Are Ground Up Alive The Day They Hatch

In 2009, Mercy For Animals went undercover at a Hy-Line Iowa egg factory and discovered that baby chickens who were of no egg-laying use to the buyers (read: male chicks), were put on a conveyor belt and sent directly to a grinder. Hy-Line defended this practice by insisting that it was industry standard.

Pregnant Pigs live in alarmingly small crates and never see the light of day

Every year, millions of sows are kept in cages called “gestation crates”, a cost-cutting measure that keeps the pregnant pigs immobilized. The concrete floors beneath the crates are often slatted so that manure can just slip through into huge pits. After spending a full four-month pregnancy in these gestation crates, the sows often suffer from abscesses, sores and ulcers. However, even when the pigs are released from the crates, they are not living a comfortable life: The uneven floors of the hog houses have been proven to cause leg and feet deformities.

Veal Calves Are Saddled With Heavy Chains

Notoriously mistreated, veal calves are often forced to wear heavy chains to keep them from becoming overactive in their stalls. The calves are also kept in near or total darkness and suffer from forced anemia, for no reason other than to keep their flesh pale and attractive.

82% Of U.S. Dairies Practice ‘Tail Docking’

Citing health reasons and worker comfort, a majority of U.S. farms practice tail docking, the act of removing the tails of livestock by burning, emasculating, or constricting the tail with an elastic band. This practice causes pain, stress, and sometimes infection in the cows, which is why it has been outlawed in a number of countries, such as New Zealand. However, California is the only U.S. state where tail docking is illegal.

A quote by Isaac Bashevis Singer, “The Letter Writer”:

“In his thoughts, Herman spoke a eulogy for the mouse who had shared a portion of her life with him and who, because of him, had left this earth. What do they know, all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world – about such as you? They have convinced themselves that man, the WORST transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.”

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